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Thu April 9, 2009
Medical malpractice award one of largest in state history
By Renny MacKay
Laramie, WY – The award this week in a medical malpractice case may be the largest of its kind in Wyoming history. After a jury found two Casper doctors negligent in their 2005 treatment of a former Army Staff Sergeant, the jury then awarded the patient one point six million dollars. This is also the first time in years that a doctor - or in this case two doctors - has lost a jury case.
Tom Juben, a Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association member, says he hopes this will impact health care in the state.
"I hope what it means is that what it means is that those who are responsible for health care are very careful and practice to the standard of care, whereas in this case a jury finds that physicians have not met the standard of care and have awarded damages as a result. It's a serious thing and Wyoming citizens have a right to have health care in such a way that it meets the standard of care," Juben says.
The executive director of the Wyoming Medical Society, Dennis Ellis, says the award will increase the cost of health care in the state because doctors will have to pay more for liability insurance.
"That increases the cost of business and it increases the number of procedures they do and the number of tests. The bottom line there is that it makes patients wait longer to get in and see a doctor and increases the cost of care for everyone," Ellis says.
Wyoming does remain one of the few states in the country with no cap on awards in medical malpractice cases.